(Image courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)

Ohio State (9-1, 2-0) jumped out early and gradually pulled away for a 73-71 win over the Bucknell Bison (4-4, 0-0) Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes needed every one of Kaleb Wesson’s career high 22 points and an effective 2nd half defense to get the win. This was a bit of an odd game to watch. Ohio State came out, and after their 10 day rest, looked energized and shooting well. After 4 1/2 minutes of play, Ohio State was 5-7 from the field and held an 11-3 lead. With 4:04 remaining in the first half, Ohio State held a 37-25 lead and and was cruising.

Then they weren’t. The Buckeyes went into a funk; they looked lost and indifferent on defense and couldn’t (almost) make a shot on offense. In Ohio State’s final eight possessions of the first half, they had; 2 turnovers, 4 missed FGs, 2 missed FTs and finally scored on a Duane Washington Jr FG with :06 remaining. Meanwhile, during their eight possessions, Bucknell had 2 missed FGs, 3 2-point FGs and 3 3-point FGs. Hence the 15-2 Bucknell run to take a 40-39 lead at the half. Kaleb Wesson’s free throws with :29 gave Ohio State

In the second half, Bucknell continued their momentum, outscoring Ohio State 9-4 over the first three minutes to hold a 49-41 lead. Ohio State began to tighten up and extend their perimeter defense. Offensively, they continued to run their inside offense to finally take the lead at the 13:40 mark, 53-52. As in the first half, Ohio State nearly blew a double digit lead in the waning minutes, but tenacious perimeter defense forced up an unanswered Bucknell prayer to end the game with the 73-71 Ohio State win.

The Buckeyes had three players in double figures. The aforementioned Kaleb Wesson (22), Keyshawn Woods, (13) and C.J. Jackson (10). Kaleb also had a game high 10 rebounds while C.J. had a game high 6 assists.

There was nice “2nd tier” scoring with Kyle Young, Luther Mohammad and Duane Washington, Jr each scoring 8 points. Although Andre Wesson had almost as many broken teeth (3) as points (4), he did pull down 9 rebounds..

The Bison were led by Avi Toomer (12), Kimbal Mackenzie (13), Jimmy Sotos (12) and Nate Sestina (10). Sotos led the team with 7 rebounds and with 5 assists. A pretty good afternoon for the 6’3″ guard. 

Ohio State shot 48% from the field (27-56), 40% (6-15) from 3-point range and 72% (13-18) from the foul line. 

Bucknell shot 41% from the field (23-55), 40% (12-30) from 3-point range and 72% (13-18) from the foul line. 

What Went Right

Ohio State employed a solid, fundamental “inside game” to take advantage of their inside physical advantages afforded by Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

Ohio State had improved spacing and ball awareness with their perimeter defense in the second half. After getting lit up by Bucknell’s long range shooting in the first half (58%), they held the Bison to 37% in the second half.

What Didn’t

Ohio State did a poor job of closing out periods of play. In the last +4 minutes of the first half, they were outscored 15-2. In the closing 4 1/2 minutes of the game, they were outscored 13-4. So, in the closing +8 minutes of both halves, Ohio State was outscored 28-6. The focus on playing solid basketball just wasn’t there.

Free throw shooting continues to be harder than it should be. As I pointed out in the Ohio State-Minnesota recap, improved FT shooting will be worth a couple points a game that might come in handy. This, as it turned out, could have been one of those games. 

Still some work to be done.

Other…

  • The first half was statistically, I think, an odd one for Ohio State. Holtmann’s game plan appeared to use the physical mis-matches (Kaleb Wesson, specifically) to work the ball inside. It appeared to work’ Ohio State had 28 points in the paint and Kaleb Wesson had 13 points. The odd thing was that Ohio State shot only four free throws in the first half. With that emphasis on inside scoring, I’d have thought more shooting fouls would have been called.
  •  I am really impressed with the Bucknell team. They are very sound fundamentally, seem to have a pretty high “basketball IQ” and play with full effort whistle-to-whistle. This is a good basketball team.
  • According to teamrankings.com, the Buckeyes are projected to finish the regular season 21-10 and 12-8 in B1G play. They rank Ohio State as the 18th best team in the country and #6 in the B1G. Their chance to make the NCAA’s is 77%. 

 

Up Next

The Buckeyes host Youngstown State on Tuesday, December 18th. The game is set to tip-off at 7:00 pm ET. You can watch the game on BTN or listen to it on 97.1 The Fan. Or both.

The Penguins (4-8, 0-0) are averaging 80 points per game while allowing 85 ppg.  They average 42 rebounds and 16 turnovers per game. For comparison, the Buckeyes are scoring 78 and allowing 61 points per game. Ohio State averages 37 rebounds and 13 turnovers per game.

Youngstown State has two players that average double figures scoring per game. They are Garrett Covington (14.7) and Kendale Hampton (10.4. They do have three players that average over 9 points per game; Devin Morgan, Darius Quinsberry and Donel Cathcart. Naz Bohnnon averages 9.7 rebounds per game as well as 3.5 assists per game.

Per Teamrankings.com, Ohio State has a 100% chance to win against Youngstown State. We can only hope…